Bernhard Termuhlen attributes his success to "being industrious and a systematic approach." The driven Termuhlen is also a born salesman--which is what he started as at German financial-services firm MLP in 1984. Since he became CEO in May, 1999, MLP's share price has almost tripled. Revenues rose 50%, to $730 million, in 2000. MLP is now one of Germany's 25 largest companies by market capitalization. The restless Termuhlen has pushed it into Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Britain. Next stop: The U.S. MLP's success is proof positive that Europe's crowded financial-services industry still has room for innovative, smaller players. MLP offers career advice and sells financial services to engineering, law, business, and medical students, who usually prosper--and stay loyal to the firm that first gave them financial advice.
When the 45-year-old Termuhlen joined MLP's management board in 1988, he put money earmarked for a house into MLP shares. Now he can buy whatever house he wants.